Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Buckinghams: A Forgotten Hits Exclusive

Over the past few years, we've received a number of letter much like the ones posted below ... asking about the "current state of affairs" within Chicago's Pop Music Legends, The Buckinghams.

Some fans seem to be confused by the fact that there seem to be two entities with ties to our local heroes, who lit up the charts with six straight Top 40 Hits in 1967.  It's really quite simple:  original founding members Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna have continued to perform as The Buckinghams for over 25 years now, touring the world sharing their musical memories.  And former lead singer Dennis Tufano has begun performing again as a solo act, which has led to numerous appearances on PBS Oldies Shows as "the original voice of The Buckinghams".

With Carl Giammarese and Dennis Tufano BOTH regular contributors to our Forgotten Hits Website, we asked for their "awkward but necessary" support in putting together a definitive answer for the fans.
Both artists complied ... so, over the next couple of days we'll try to set the record straight once and for all.  (Hey, we love BOTH of these guys ... so thanks again for helping Forgotten Hits continue to spread "The Most Accurate Truth" for oldies music fans around the world!)  Please join us as we reminisce about the old days ... and talk about all the cool new stuff these guys have coming up!  (kk)

The Buckinghams - Back In Love Again:
I THINK this may have been a hit around Philly, or I just liked it when collecting vinyl.
Great song, but I feel the ending, the portion that would follow the ending of this (minute) snippet, needed a little attention. On their Greatest Hits CD, it sounded like crap ... so I took the opportunity to modify the sound to a level where I, and hopefully Dennis Tufano, can appreciate it. Maybe Sony re re re mastered it!
Anyway, thank you Dennis and the other Buckinghams for your nice songs!!!
Oh, glad to find a little studio talk on a couple other hits!,
Jersey John

P.S.  Fill me in ...
Why isn't Dennis Tufano's bio even mentioned here (above)???!!!!
Oh, never mind ... just a fight over The Buckinghams' name!!!! Found his site.
I assume Dennis sang lead on "Back In Love Again"?
If the website bios you're referring to pertain to the CURRENT members of the band, this would explain it, as Dennis is NOT a member of The Buckinghams (and hasn't been in quite some time) ... but certainly he should be spotlighted in the HISTORY of the band ... as he was, in fact, the VOICE of The Buckinghams on all of their hit records (including the one you mentioned above ... a long-time Forgotten Hits favorite.)  For the past 25 years, The Buckinghams have been led by original founding members Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna, who tour the country extensively playing their hits for oldies fans across the USA.  And, they've continued to record NEW material as well, which is available through their website (via the link included in your email above.)  kk
Ouch!  By the way, Buckingham Carl Giammarese was none-too-happy with your "Back In Love Again" snippet ... read on!  (kk)
"Back In Love Again" was a song (keyboardist) Marty Grebb wrote that we hoped would be a hit following "Susan."  I think it peeked only in the 60's on the national charts unfortunately. I like the ending and no one has the right to modify it without legal issues. It is owned by Sony. One problem is that it has been re-mastered many times and they have lost the way it was meant to sound in the process. Unfortunately we don't have control, otherwise I'd love to go in and remix a lot of our songs.
I always thought "Back In Love Again" was a VERY strong follow-up to "Susan" ... and, here in Chicago it did pretty well (#32).  Nationally, it officially stopped at #53 on the Cash Box Chart.  I think virtually EVERY artist recording in the '60's would go back and remix things differently today if given the chance to do so ... but for me, part of the charm IS the sound of these records ... they were so "of the time", if you know what I mean.  I know a number of jocks on the list have featured "Back In Love Again" on their shows thanks to the amount of press given to this tune here in Forgotten Hits ... and I say it holds up pretty damn well today!  (kk)
What's the scoop on The Buckinghams?  What is the deal with Dennis?
He was telling me he was not allowed to be a Buckingham ... that the other two own the name?  (Who is that?  Carl and Nick?)
Did they have a falling out? Tried to google it but nothing came up.
Unfortunately, we get asked this question a lot ... which puts us in a bit of an awkward position since Carl Giammarese and Dennis Tufano are both Forgotten Hits Readers and have always been VERY supportive of what we do here ... I consider both to be good friends of FH ... but the music fans want to know these things and sometimes (too often perhaps) they're left to draw their own conclusions ... which typically doesn't do ANYBODY any favors ... and only serves to fuel more rumors and animosity!!!
Honestly, I'm not even sure that I can explain it exactly right ... but let me try ... 

My understanding is that Dennis gave away the rights to the name several years ago when he was trying to make it as an actor.  The Buckinghams reunited for a brief period of time around 1985, I believe ... they did a big show here in Chicago, headlining (at Mayor Jane Byrne's request) "Chicagofest", the precursor to "A Taste Of Chicago".  The response was SO good that they decided to do some more shows together and even recorded a brand new album.  Then when things didn't really take off the way they had hoped they would, Dennis decided to split for California and try it on his own as an actor.  At this point Carl stepped up to the lead and has been fronting the band ever since ... along with original member Nick Fortuna who, I believe, is also officially his business partner. For the past 25 years, THEY have been The Buckinghams.

Dennis had some success on his own as an actor ... he also sang the original theme song to TV's "Growing Pains" ... and toured with Olivia Newton-John for a while as her primary male lead vocalist (handling many of the key parts on Olivia's biggest duet hits, originally recorded with the likes of John Travolta and Cliff Richard.  In fact, some of these performances have been captured for posterity on video compilations.)  A quick check of shows several other films in which he appeared:   
Click here: Dennis Tufano - IMDb

Meanwhile, the Carl and Nick led version of The Buckinghams continued to tour successfully during these years, both as a headlining act and as part of many oldies concert packages.It is no overstatement to say that they have kept the "brand name" of The Buckinghams a prominent, viable oldies entity, recognized by millions of fans around the world.  (Their music has always spoken for itself ... six straight National Top 40 Hits in a fourteen month period spanning December of 1966 through January of 1968!)

Then recently (in the last few years), Dennis has started singing again, primarily doing his Tribute To Bobby Darin Show, "As Long As I'm Singin'".  (A great show, by the way!) He started slipping two or three of his Buckinghams hits into the encore and all of a sudden, the bookings started coming in.  (He's done a number of the PBS oldies shows all over the country and frequently performs with Sonny Geraci, former lead singer of The Outsiders and Climax.) 

It's too bad really ... and puts both artists in a tough spot ... because Dennis really is the voice of The Buckinghams when it comes to the records ... and there is NO question that the man can still really sing ... but Carl Giammarese (who never stopped being a Buck) has been singing all the songs for the past 25 years and, as such, has a VERY loyal following of fans ... and, since Dennis walked away from the opportunity to continue on with the band, Carl and original member Nick Fortuna, the bassist (who also has one hell of a voice)  are legally ... and "officially" ... The Buckinghams.  (Let's face it ... there's no way Carl's going to give up the spotlight now ... he has been the "face" ... and the voice ... of The Buckinghams for the past 25 years!)  Carl and Nick will soon be heading out on their second straight Happy Together Again Tour where they played to rave reviews last summer.

So yes, there's a little bit of conflict  between the two (especially when it comes to appearing here locally in Chicago, since The Bucks hail from here.)  Overall though (with BOTH guys on the list ... and VERY friendly and cooperative with Forgotten Hits), I prefer to think of it as more of a "friendly rivalry" than anything else ... and I believe that in a heartbeat BOTH men would admit to having a deep love and admiration for one another.  

Over the past several years, I have seen Carl and Dennis perform together as Tufano and Giammarese at a couple of special events ... something they did regularly as a duo after The Buckinghams folded the first time around ... and Dennis recently told me that under the right circumstances he'd be a willing participant in putting the ORIGINAL band back together with all of the surviving members for a special performance.  (Although I never made this information public before, there was a brief period of discussion with myself, deejay Jim Shea and some of the artists on The Forgotten Hits List about putting together a final tribute to The Smothers Brothers when they announced their official retirement a while back ... the idea was to recruit some of the bands who appeared on their legendary television show ... such as The Buckinghams, The Turtles and a few others ... and try to put together a MAJOR send off television special.  Talks fell apart very quickly so there was never really any point in discussing it any further within these pages ... but Dennis was the FIRST guy on board with the idea and I have absolutely NO doubt in my mind that for such a special event, Carl would have thrown HIS hat into the ring immediately, too!  I sincerely believe that when it comes to these guys, the music really DOES come first.)  

In our hearts, we want ALL of our rock and roll heroes to get along and remember all of the good times ... and all of the joy this music gave to millions of us.  I honestly believe that as long as both Dennis and Carl can continue to get their bookings without any conflicts, they will each find an audience out there happy to appreciate them both as artists.  Right now, it appears that Carl's Buckinghams are getting the major gigs ... as I mentioned earlier, they will be part of this year's Happy Together Again Tour again this summer ... which means that they'll play to hundreds of thousands of fans across the country this summer.  Dennis seems to be getting more and more of the smaller gigs and "specialty" appearances ... and legally has to bill himself as "The Original Voice of The Buckinghams" ... but the fans still flock to see both artists ... let's face it, they had some pretty incredible hits!  (Interestingly enough, on his DT Sings website, Dennis states: "Dennis is a solo performer and is not associated, in any way, with the current rendition of the band that owns the name The Buckinghams."  Dennis is also still trying to find a home for his Bobby Darin Tribute ... it has played to rave reviews across the country and allows him an opportunity to stretch a little as an artist, too. A "live" DVD of Dennis doing Bobby Darin material is now available through the CDBaby website.)  The Buckinghams ALSO have a great live DVD available, which you can order through their website at the link shown below.  

Meanwhile, some of us dreamers still hope that from time to time we'll also get to witness some amazing reconciliation shows, too!  (kk)
In a perfect clip of "then and now", here are The Buckinghams performing "Susan" ... starting off on The Ed Sullivan Show with Dennis Tufano singing lead ... and then ending with Carl Giammarese handling the vocals on one of those excellent PBS '60's Specials!
Click here: Susan - Video - The Buckinghams

Back in 1967, The Buckinghams appeared on TV's hottest and hippest show "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour". (Hopefully this footage will be one of the highlights whenever Season One of this landmark series is finally released on DVD.)  Although they hailed from Chicago ... and already had several major hits under their belts ... the set was filled with British "Union Jack" Flags.  (Truthfully, The Buckinghams had more to do with Chicago's Buckingham Fountain than Great Britain's Buckingham Palace ... but this fact seemed to be lost on the set designers at The Smothers Brothers' television studio!)  The guys still joke about this "mishap" to this very day!  (kk)
And for upcoming dates where you can see BOTH of these great artists, be sure to check their websites:
Click here: The Buckinghams Tour Dates | Pollstar - The Concert Hotwire 

TOMORROW IN FORGOTTEN HITS:  Carl Giammarese fills us in on some of the current details (and corrects a few of our errors in today's piece regarding the reunion timeline.)  Don't miss it!!! (kk)